Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 8, 2022

Top Dems to attend Harry Reid's memorial, Kazakhstan protests die down as Russian troops enter country, and more

1

Biden, Obama, other top Dems to attend Harry Reid’s memorial

Former President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the eulogy at a memorial for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Las Vegas Saturday. Other prominent Democrats set to attend include President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Vice President Harris. Reid, who died Dec. 28, grew up in poverty and was an amateur boxer before entering politics. During the 1970s, he served in the Nevada state Assembly, as lieutenant governor of Nevada, and as chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission. He won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1983 and went on to serve for 30 years as a U.S. senator, holding the position of majority leader from 2007 to 2015.

2

Kazakhstan protests die down as Russian troops enter country

Protests in Kazakhstan that left at least 26 demonstrators and 18 law enforcement officers dead gave way to an uneasy calm Saturday as some 2,500 Russian troops arrived in the country. Kazakh authorities also announced Saturday that Karim Massimov, who until recently headed the country's National Security Committee, had been detained on suspicion of high treason. Some observers suggest that, by arresting Massimov and calling in Russian troops, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is attempting to escape the shadow of his predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who led the former Soviet republic from its independence in 1991 until 2019 and has remained influential. Massimov served as prime minister under Nazarbayev from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2014 to 2016. Tokayev removed Nazarbayev from his position as chair of Kazakhstan's Security Council Wednesday.

3

Biden tours Colorado communities devastated by fire

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited Colorado Friday, touring neighborhoods destroyed by the fire that devastated Louisville, Superior, and Boulder County last week and meeting with local first responders and with families who lost their homes. The fire that ravaged these communities caused at least $513 million in damage and destroyed almost 1,100 homes and structures, according to the latest estimates. One person is confirmed dead. Investigators are still working to determine the fire's cause but have narrowed in on a piece of Boulder-area property owned by Christian fundamentalist sect Twelve Tribes, where a barn was filmed burning before the larger blaze broke out.

4

U.S. COVID hospitalizations approach record high

According to a new tally by Reuters, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the United States could reach a new record high by the end of the week. Hospitalizations have spiked in recent weeks as the more infectious but probably less deadly Omicron variant became the dominant strain of the virus. Even as hospitalizations from the virus increase — to almost 123,000 — deaths remain steady. Additionally, many analysts have expressed concerns that hospitalization numbers are overinflated. Data released Friday by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) revealed that more than half of the COVID patients in New York City hospitals were admitted for reasons other than COVID and only later tested positive for the virus.

5

Wednesday wasn’t the first time Cruz called Jan. 6 a 'terrorist attack'

CNN's Daniel Dale released a fact check Friday showing that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who attempted to play off calling the Jan. 6 riot a "terrorist attack" during a Wednesday Senate committee meeting as a one-time instance of "sloppy" phrasing, was not being entirely accurate. According to Dale, Cruz used the phrase "terrorist attack" to describe what happened on Jan. 6 at least 17 times prior to Wednesday. Cruz made his excuse during a Thursday appearance on Fox's Tucker Carlson Tonight, during which he apologized for echoing what many Republicans consider a left-wing narrative designed to justify a crackdown on Trump supporters. Carlson was not eager to let Cruz off the hook.

6

Men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery get life in prison

The three men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery have been sentenced to life in prison. Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William Bryan were convicted of murder in November after chasing down Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man. Travis McMichael fatally shot him, and all three men — all of whom are white — were found guilty of felony murder. On Friday, they were each sentenced to life in prison, the McMichaels without the possibility of parole. Bryan was given the possibility of parole after 30 years. The case is expected to be appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.

7

Supreme Court appears hesitant to embrace Biden's vaccine plan

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday appeared skeptical of President Biden's broad COVID vaccination-or-testing requirement for the nation's large employers. The justices did, however, seem more likely to back to a separate vaccine requirement for health care workers at facilities that receive federal funds. The administration's rule, which was supposed to go into effect on Jan. 4, mandates employers with over 100 employees require vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing as a condition of employment. OSHA pushed back the date in response to legal challenges.

8

U.K.: 4th jab not necessary for elderly

Government public health advisers in the United Kingdom recommended Friday that nursing home residents and people over the age of 80 not be given a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine. According to U.K. public health data, a fourth jab is unnecessary because even three months after the third dose, protection against hospitalization remains at around 90 percent for those over 65. Prof. Wei Shen Lim, chair of the U.K. Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, said that, given the need to focus on getting third shots into the arms of the general population, there is "no immediate need" to boost seniors again, but that public health officials could revisit the possibility at a later date.

9

Legendary actor Sidney Poitier dies at 94

Sidney Poitier, the legendary actor who made history by becoming the first Black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor, has died. He was 94. Poitier won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1964 for Lilies of the Field. "It is a long journey to this moment," he said in his acceptance speech. Poitier directed numerous films, as well, including Buck and the Preacher and Stir Crazy, and he served as Bahamian ambassador to Japan from 1997 through 2007. Then-President Barack Obama honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

10

Transgender contestant Amy Schneider becomes the 1st woman to win $1 million on 'Jeopardy!'

Amy Schneider continued her impressive streak on Friday's Jeopardy!, and her winnings now total $1,019,600 after 28 games. This makes her the first woman to ever win more than $1 million on the quiz show. Schneider has been making history throughout her Jeopardy! run. She previously became the first transgender contestant to qualify for the show's Tournament of Champions, and she holds the records for most money and most consecutive games won by a woman. Schneider is the fifth person to win over $1 million on Jeopardy!, and the fourth to do so during regular-season play.

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